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How to Start an Indoor Garden for Veggies and Herbs

White kitchen with small handing herb garden.

Lucky Plot 13

We all have reasons to want to start an indoor garden: maybe it's always having fresh scallions around for every dish, maybe you want to learn how to grow your own food, perhaps you want to see exactly what goes into your food and where it comes from, or maybe you just want to go to the grocery store less. Whatever the reason is, starting your own indoor garden is becoming easier than ever thanks to the availability of plants and devices to help you grow them successfully.

Growing plants has a positive impact on your health, but there's also something extremely gratifying about being able to raise your own food, even if it's just a few herbs. With the right supplies and a little bit of research, you can grow your own food and herbs in the comfort of your own home.

What You Need to Start an Indoor Garden

Perhaps the most important part of starting a garden inside is choosing what you want to grow! Taking stock of your space, the kind of light you get, and where you will be housing your plants will all factor into what you can and end up growing.

If you only have a small windowsill to grow your plants, that's totally fine, but it may limit what you can cultivate. If you live in a dark home, you may need to incorporate grow lights into your space so your plants can photosynthesize properly.

After you've decided what and where you will be growing your plants, it's time to get something to put them in, starter plants or seeds, and some gardening tools like a small shovel or gardening gloves. If you live in a dark space and want to grow something like veggies that require more light, make sure you have a grow light set up.

Perhaps the easiest route to take when starting an indoor garden is with something like an AeroGarden that automates the whole process using hydroponics. The seeds come in pods which you place in the planter, they live in the water (which circulates and has nutrients in it to keep the plants alive), and a grow light turns on and off automatically thanks to a timer.

Herbs on windowsill.

Stocksy/Hernandez & Sorokina

Creating an Indoor Garden from Scratch

If you want to start from square one, after having all of your supplies, choose what to grow. Herbs like basil and cilantro can be grown from seed or from cuttings from other plants that have been propagated in water. Vegetables can be grown from seed that you buy at the store or from seeds that you get from them (like pepper or tomato seeds that you save).

Growing from seed takes a little more time, but it's truly worth it. You get to see your plants grow from nothing into a happy, healthy, edible plant, all while knowing you did it yourself!

To start, place a seed in a small pot filled with potting soil. Bury it about a quarter of an inch beneath the soil, gently patting it down. Water the seed thoroughly, keeping it moist (but not wet), until you see a sprout come up from the soil in a couple of week's time.

After that, continue watering your plant, misting it to add humidity, and watch it grow. Of course, you want to research the specific herb or vegetable you are growing, as each one has different light and water needs, harvest times, and growth patterns.

Using a Hydroponic System

If you want to start off small and have a pre-made system for growing herbs, veggies, or fruits, there are plenty to choose from. Most work in a similar way, though, which can make the choice a little less daunting.

Most hydroponic systems work by having a water reservoir where the plants' roots will grow. There will most likely be a fertilizer or nutrient mix you will add to the water to help nourish whatever you're growing.

countertop garden

Andrew Castellano / Contributor

Connected to that reservoir will be a grow light that sits on top. This light will mimic natural sunlight, ensuring that your plants have the bright light they need to photosynthesize and make food for themselves. Most have a timer that will turn on each morning and off each night, making it easy for you to set it and forget it.

Now, the good part: You will add seed pods to the water reservoir. Usually these are packaged similarly to coffee pods, but you'll remove the top so your seeds can sprout. You'll place these in designated spots in the reservoir, where they'll live the entire time.

Over the next few weeks, your plants will sprout and you'll be able to cut leaves from your herbs and pick your fruits and veggies. It's truly an exciting process!